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The allure of the ‘Big Society’: conveying authority in an era of uncertainty


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Jacobs, K 2014 , 'The allure of the ‘Big Society’: conveying authority in an era of uncertainty' , Housing Theory and Society, vol. on lin , pp. 1-14 , doi: 10.1080/14036096.2014.947171.

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The inception and roll out of the UK Government’s Big Society agenda offers an opportunity to consider the changing modalities of contemporary political engagement. Much of the critical scholarship on the Big Society views it as a rationale to legitimize both a reconfiguration of the welfare state and an austerity programme to reduce government debt. While these interpretations are helpful, they explain only partially the appeal of these agen- das for politicians and their political parties. The key question explored in this article is why, despite the hostility and cynicism towards ideological projects such as Big Society, do politi- cians continue to identify and pursue them? I argue that the Big Society agenda is only in part a rationale for austerity and welfare reform; it also provides a discursive setting for pol- iticians to address societal anxieties by offering a navigable route for the future. Although the Big Society agenda has been roundly derided, its Manichean morality tale offers assurance at a time when politics is being reshaped by neoliberal ideology, changing media practices and globalization processes.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Jacobs, K
Keywords: Welfare reform, Big Society, Psychosocial
Journal or Publication Title: Housing Theory and Society
ISSN: 1403-6096
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/14036096.2014.947171
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Copyright 2014 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research

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